Yeah, this game series died faster than Konami’s gaming division. Golden Axe was the classic of all classics…but ends up being dated. Golden Axe II was the same game with much better graphics, it’s kind of disappointing but not the worst beat ’em up. And then there is…Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder, which is considered to be the best game in the series and I’ll try to play that…until then (sigh), Golden Axe III (ゴールデンアックス III), developed and published by Sega and was released in 1993…in Japan ONLY, why it never got released outside of Japan I will never know, considering that this is Golden Axe, it’s a well-known series. But then again, Streets of Rage is a much better series and still holds up even today, whilst Golden Axe…does not. Though it did get a downloadable release for the Sega Channel in 1995 in America.
Damud Hellstrike, the Prince of Darkness, has taken the Golden Axe and put a curse on the warriors. But one of the heroes has their curse lifted and is sent to lift the curse off the others, defeat Hellstrike and come back with the Golden Axe.
The gameplay has changed…for the worst and here’s why. First, the combat has had an uplift since there’s much more to do. The combat is near enough the same as the previous games but have more attacks but are complicated to pull off unless you just mash the attack and jump button as if you’re playing a fighting game very badly. The enemy AI has improved and for a 16-bit game is actually good, they can think before you could attack. But there is one issue; the controls. They are horrible, at some points it can do stuff you weren’t supposed to do, like blocking attacks, which is helpful, but I didn’t want to do that; even running at times was not performed by me. Keep in mind I did play this game on the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection but I used the directional buttons to justify playing the game the way it was meant to be played. Finally, the controls and combat feel the same as the other two games and no combat additions can change that.
You get to play as new characters; Ax Battler and Tyris Flare return, though for some reason Gilius Thunderhead is unplayable and is only the adviser, how disappointing is that? The most popular character in the series is rejected to a Yoda-type character. Newer characters include Proud Cragger, Chronos “Evil” Rait…Oh, wait a minute, the characters who I thought were Ax Battler and Tyris Flare are NOT Ax Battler and Tyris Flare, but are Kain Grinder and Sahra Burn, but they look like Ax Battler and Tyris Flare so ANYONE COULD MISTAKE THAT. What happened to Ax Battler and Tyris Flare? I don’t know, this game isn’t…that good.
The graphics are infinitely worse. Not too horrible but it really looks like something from the Master System, even the second game has much better graphics, it’s near enough disappointing though doesn’t hinder my gameplay experience. The music is just boring and also does not fit Golden Axe. It seems the first game got the music right; it’s just that the third game has one decent piece whilst the rest are forgettable and just plain banal.
Overall, it’s not the worst beat ’em ups, but it’s a stale sequel to a game that is old and tired, it doesn’t really do anything truly new and it’s near enough pointless of a sequel. Remember, Streets of Rage got better overtime; Golden Axe went backwards and got near enough worse. Funnily enough, my favourite game is the one I’m still ain’t too fond of…and it’s the first one. You may call it a classic and I did grow up playing it but the Mega Drive series hasn’t aged well and it only got worse over the years with the final nail in the coffin being Beast Rider, though I want to talk about Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe, The Revenge of Death Adder and The Duel before going to Beast Rider; Golden Axe Warrior is a Zelda rip-off so…one day.
You can get it on the Sega Mega Drive, PlayStation 2, PSP, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Virtual Console.